Scale of damage caused by Kittilä flooding to be gauged in coming days
Water level in River Ounasjoki started to recede by 1 cm/hour on Monday
Apart from 79-year-old widow Elvi Soininen, who decided to remain in her home despite the fact that the floors were covered with water, hundreds of other Kittilä residents living along the banks of the River Ounasjoki have been evacuated from their houses.
Fire and rescue department personnel pump water out of basements and water and sewage systems in various locations around the village.
In addition to the fire department equipment, further pumps have been hired from local machine shops and private citizens.
The scale of damage caused by this year's spring flooding of the Ounasjoki can only be estimated once the water level has receded sufficiently. On Monday the water level dropped by twenty or so centimetres.
The cost of damage caused to private property and businesses is likely to reach into the millions of euros.
"In addition, public funding will be needed to cover the Kittilä municipality's expenses, such as the firemen's overtime pay, machinery rentals, sand and gravel used for temporary flood barriers, and so on", lists municipal manager Seppo Maula.
"To cover these expenses alone will cost the community more than one hundred thousand euros", Maula believes.
"Once the water has receded and we have properly evaluated the cost of damage, then we will figure out how to fund it all."
"There is still a lot of work left. All the temporary flood barriers have to be removed so that people can make it back to their homes", explains fire chief Jorma Ojala.
This year's flooding has raised the old issue of building an embankment alongside the Ounasjoki high enough to protect the village from future floods.
"Luckily we have not build it yet, as it would not have been high enough to prevent this flood", Ojala explains.
So far, opposition from people living next to the river - who do not want to lose their river views - has put a stop to the idea of the embankment. These are the same people who had to be evacuated and whose houses have now been flooded.
"Perhaps these latest events may have caused them to rethink their position", Maula ponders.
According to law, the state is required to compensate for 80 percent of the cost of damage to private people caused by the flood, Maula explains. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's flood damage budget for this year of EUR 841,000 will hardly be sufficient.
On Monday Lapland MPs Jari Vilén (National Coalition) and Esko-Juhani Tennilä (Left Alliance) called for speedy action from the government in granting the needed aid.
The Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Juha Korkeaoja is scheduled to visit the disaster area in Kittilä on Wednesday evening.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Permanent flood barriers needed to protect Kittilä in future (30.5.2005)
Flooding in Finnish Lapland leads to large-scale evacuations in Ivalo and Kittilä (27.5.2005)